Internship experience stories: Junk Run
Hear from two students in the internship programme who worked at Junk Run, a sustainable waste management service who specialise in environmentally-friendly rubbish removal.
Interns helped produce videos to promote Junk Run’s work to the wider community. Shelby Kua (Arts – Screen Production and English major) and Eric Jang (Arts/Fine Arts conjoint) share their experiences and what they learned.
What project did you work on?
Shelby: "I worked on a documentary web series called ‘Talking Trash,’ which educates the public about Junk Run’s waste management approach and how to handle your waste responsibly. My fellow intern Evelina and I were drove the whole process from start to finish: Brainstorming ideas, pre-production, filming content, editing, pushing the series out."
Eric: "I produced case study videos focusing on companies that Junk Run works with like Tonkin + Taylor and Dimension Shopfitters. The videos aimed to show how much waste Junk Run collects from those companies and how they reuse it."
What did your day-to-day role involve?
Shelby: "I worked on the project 1-2 days a week over the semester. At the start, I had a weekly production meeting, went on-site to film interviews, and met up with Evelina to film additional portions of the series. Once that was done, we edited the content remotely, keeping the team updated on what we’d produced."
Eric: "My work was really varied. I did basic video editing on Premier Pro, analysed data from clients, sorted through archive footage, and filmed a bit of B-roll footage."
A significant component was creating complex animation, motion graphics, and infographics to display information about the company and their waste in an engaging way.
What was the biggest thing you learned from the experience?
Shelby: "Technical skills. Junk Run gave us hands-on experience using cameras and microphones, getting familiar with editing, and applying our lessons to actual work. It was a really fun project to hone our skills, especially as lockdown meant we didn’t get to use equipment much in class.
"Also - time management. Even though the internship is a uni course it felt separate from normal study and more like proper work, so organisation was important."
Eric: "How to take initiative – I was too laid-back and cautious at the beginning. I gradually got better at asking the internship convener and previous interns for advice, and from there was able to do things independently and initiate ideas and possibilities myself."
What was your favourite part of the experience?
Shelby: "Going on-site to film – you never knew exactly what you’d find. With documentary-style filming you have to be reactive and spontaneous, your shots aren’t planned beforehand, so you think on the fly. It’s great to be going “that look’s good, let’s get that now” and know that the decisions you make at every turn shape the outcome."
Eric: "Finding the creative possibilities for each video. We structured them so it wasn’t all similar footage and had a mixture of content, including adding Q&A slides and infographics. I explored visual layouts options and references, which allowed me to combine my Fine Arts background with Screen Production."
What was the most challenging part?
Shelby: "Being too ambitious! In the beginning everyone was so hyped and had so many ideas – then a few weeks in we realised “oh wow, this is a lot.” So we reassessed, recalibrated, and streamlined our workflow so we didn’t lose time unnecessarily. That part was tricky to navigate but understandable because we were new and still learning."
Eric: "Uncertainty and lockdown. I was initially working on more Talking Trash episodes but only produced one video before we went into lockdown and couldn’t continue. So we had to change things dramatically and brainstorm different ideas – that’s when we shifted to producing the case study videos instead, which we could approach creatively and didn’t need to film in-person as much."
What would you tell people thinking of applying for the internship programme?
Shelby: "Definitely do it! The internship gave me so much that you don’t get in a normal university course – valuable practical experience and the feeling of being able to use your skills in a tangible workplace way and see the fruits of your work."
Uni prepares us for the future, but the internship enables you to actually be in that future for a while.
Eric: "I’d encourage future interns to tap into contemporary mātauranga Māori, to emotionally connect with the environment, and put that into the work you’re creating. Constantly upskilling is also important, screen production is a competitive industry, and with a diversity of technical skills you can resolve many creative challenges."